First Photoshoot
July 15, 2007 10:58 PM   Subscribe

How should I prepare myself for my first photoshoot as a pro photog?

I am a young, budding, photographer who recently landed his first gig doing a fashion photoshoot for a new line of women's clothing.

I have done some small stuff before, but this seems like the real deal: half a dozen models, a makeup artist, hair stylist, an assistant and a runner. Plus I actually get some decent money.

Anyway, I was wondering if you guys had any tips/advice on how to prepare and just what I should expect. Even small equipment tricks etc. One thing to note is that I am going to be a lot younger then everyone else (I am under 20).
posted by benji to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
First... age really has nothing to do with it. Never worry about the other photogs. Your there for a specific reason and you need to make sure you accomplish this.
Be comfortable and knowledgeable with your equipment. Be able to adjust to any situation that may occur. Specifically for any lighting changes. I assume you are using a flash... fully charged power pack or lots o' AA's.
Check your equipment thoroughly and if possible have back up readily available.
Try to get a good night's sleep the night before.
posted by fzsrv at 11:12 PM on July 15, 2007

Take twice or three times as many pictures as you think you'll need.

Bring extra memory cards, and an extra battery for your camera.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 11:47 PM on July 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Don't be afraid to take an extra bag with supplies you may not need, but if you do you will be a hero. Off the top of my head:
-Extra batteries, way more than you will need.
-Gaffer's tape
-Reflectors, even if it's just white posterboard. Plus, I always like to have a space blanket (wow I recommended that in another AskMe today, too!) The space blanket can silver reflector, folded for small sizes, but it opens to 7 feet tall. And they fold down to nothing.
-C-clamps and spring clamps.
-Moistened wipes. (They sell them in the flat plastic packets.)
-Compressed air
-Way more film and/or cards than you need.
-Breath mints or gum; you don't want to turn off the beautiful models or anyone else.
-Your business cards.
-Small flashlight. (You may need to fiddle with knobs or find things in the dark.)
posted by The Deej at 11:52 PM on July 15, 2007

Prepare well and be confident but not cocky.
posted by BillBishop at 12:14 AM on July 16, 2007

You might consider a checklist in a notebook - in the excitement of the day you can forget things and this could help you to stay focussed.
posted by extrabox at 4:31 AM on July 16, 2007

As an art director, I would ask that you speak early and often to the person who's trying to achieve a particular look, if not an absolutely specific shot — i.e., me.

And you deserve having one decision-maker; nothing's worse than having clients, agency people and, god knows, models and stylists and PAs and the sushi delivery guy offer opinions. Find out what's needed, review during setups, and everyone will stay happy.

Roll with the changes, don't lose your cool, never look worried, and take lots and lots of shots.

Good luck!
posted by Haruspex at 5:23 AM on July 16, 2007

Have backups for everything. And backups for your backups - I guarantee things will fail at the worst possible moment. This includes backup locations, as well - nothing like showing up and finding out that your rented studio had a fire last night and is now out of business or that they turned your nice outdoor location into a parking lot last week right after you scouted it. Be prepared.
posted by blaneyphoto at 6:05 AM on July 16, 2007

Check all of your equipment beforehand to make sure it works. Nothing puts a crimp on any shoot than when the synch cord doesn't work. Put fresh batteries in the camera, flash, light meter, etc. Keep spare batteries on hand.

Plan ahead with the types of shots you want with the lens you want to use and the positions of flashes or reflectors. Even know in advance the settings you will use for the camera and flashes. You will want to check those constantly so that they are correct during the shoot. It is also a good idea to know your location in advance and how you will use it to the best advantage. The bottom line is that you don't want to get to the shoot and have to think too much beyond what is in the viewfinder. Having a knowledgeable assistant will help you to focus more on the image than the equipment.
posted by JJ86 at 6:12 AM on July 16, 2007

Make sure you take photos that suit the potential layouts -- consult with the art director on this (he/she will appreciate that you're working towards the end-use). For example, you'll want to make sure you take vertically-oriented shots suitable for a cover if that's the intended use, and that your images leave room/empty space for headlines or other design elements. Same would be true if it was an advertisement, or an inside photo spread.

As a creative director, I'll also tell you something they won't: don't limit yourself to taking the photos/angles/poses they ask for. You're hired because you're also a creative person with talent -- within reasonable time/budget limits, make sure you leave some time to take the shots you imagine will be best. Despite my best creative ideas, sometimes the photog nails it in a way I'd never imagined.
posted by mrmcsurly at 8:30 AM on July 16, 2007

Along the lines of the above, don't be afraid to take some shots with way more negative space than you think you need. It's always good to have some room to play around with for headlines (as mentioned above) or other text.

I'm not sure if you are saying you are the ONLY photographer on the shoot. In any case, rapport with the models is key. Be relaxed, make some jokes, get them to relax, and just start shooting. Don't wait for everything to necessarily be "perfect." Just shoot. I have often seen and even taken some photos during the set up phase that were the best of the shoot.
posted by The Deej at 8:35 AM on July 16, 2007

Talk to the client as much as possible before hand to get exactly what they want.

Bring backups of everything (batteries, extension cords, white cards, whatever).

Shoot a ridiculous amount. I've never regretted taking too many pictures, even when shooting film. I have regretted not taking more.

Know what you want in the shot, but be open to other possibilities. Don't set something up, take a dozen shots, and be like, "This is it." Keep shooting. Get a couple of different things, even if you think you know exactly what you need.

And most importantly... GET A GOOD ASSISTANT!
posted by bradbane at 9:01 AM on July 16, 2007

Is this a location shoot or studio set-up?
If location, I would highly recommend you research the area beforehand. Take quick snaps of the area. Familiarize yourself with any potentially cool spots.

Also...get pictures (at the very least) of the clothing involved, as well as shots of the models that have been hired. You need to know what/whom you're expected to work with.

And, to third or fourth everyone closely with the art director or whomever is the creative on the project.

posted by Thorzdad at 2:19 PM on July 16, 2007

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